YMCA Stories

June 06, 2012

Strong Survivor: Jennifer Pinti

Jennifer Pinti with her son, DominickWhen Jennifer Pinti was diagnosed with cervical cancer, she didn’t have much time to worry about herself. She was pregnant, and her husband and two young children needed her.

During the day, in front of her children, she was able to keep her fears in check. At night, the panic attacks came.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Jennifer said. “I thought, I have to be here for my two - soon to be three - children.”
Moments after she safely delivered baby Dominick, she underwent surgery to remove the cancer. In the weeks that followed, she tried to bounce back for her family.

“I took care of my kids first,” she said. “That’s how I was taking care of myself… I came to a point where I knew I needed something for me. I was burned out.”

She called the Y. She knew she couldn’t afford a membership, but she hoped that her insurance company might help. That’s when she first heard about LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a free program for cancer survivors. Her timing was perfect. A week later, a new 12-week session started, and she joined it.

Jennifer’s small group met for an hour a day, three days a week. Together, they learned about exercise and nutrition, they went for walks and learned yoga, but they also shared their lives and their stories. Over time, she regained her stamina, but she also gained a circle of support, including one fellow cancer survivor she now considers a close friend.

“You feel safe in that environment to show your worries and concerns, things you don’t want to share with your family because you don’t want to scare them,” She said. “It was an hour a day just for me, and that’s what I needed.”

For Jennifer, a critical part of the Y’s cancer survivor program is Family Prime Time Plus. Because it provides fun, safe activities for the children of cancer survivors, parents are free to use the Y or go to medical appointments without worry. Today, Jennifer works in the Family Prime Time area to help pay for her Y membership and to extend the favor to others in need.

“Not once did it cross my mind that I needed any mental or emotional help,” she said about her expectations for the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. “It re-empowered me to be what I was before the cancer - to be that fighter that I had always been.”

Filed under Health
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